The Growth of Grandview 1901-1915

As mentioned in the report on this month’s meeting, I gave a presentation on the growth of Grandview using the data collated in the growing Grandview Database. This post is a brief and attenuated version of that report.

In the maps that follow, the following streets are highlighted to allow orientation:

Street Names

It has often been thought that the laying of the interurban tramline between Vancouver and New Westminster in 1891 brought about the growth of Grandview. While it is true the line ran down Venables Street and proceeded along Commercial Drive (then, Park Drive), there were no stops in Grandview itself.

What little development took place involved bringing building materials along the half-open Clark Drive and hauling them up the timber skid roads that ran down from the later Victoria Drive to False Creek between what would become William and Grant Streets.  This was probably a disappointment for the land owners of the area, but they did well enough in Cedar Cottage and Central Park where the tram really did spur development.

By the time of the 1901 Census, there were barely a dozen houses in the core area of Grandview, virtually all of them in the area of the skid road west of Park Drive.

1901

The blue block in the north-east was the Isolation Hospital, where Templeton School is today. In the following maps, public buildings, generally schools, are shown as blue blocks. Official parks will be shown in green.

It is important to realize that at this date there were NO roads cleared. The entire area was in heavy stubble from the logging operations of the previous decades. However a few years into the new century, the large landowners of the area (mostly financiers and monied gentlemen in the city of Vancouver) began to subdivide and offer up lots for sale.

There were still many desirable areas available closer to the city centre and so business was slow at first. This is the situation by 1905.

1905

Future growth was clearly anticipated in the acquisition of sites for Macdonald School on Hastings, and the Grandview School at Park and First.

The trajectory of growth is clearly from north-west (closest to city centre) to south-east. However, the next few years saw such explosive growth that the direction became irrelevant.  From 1907 until 1913, Grandview was the subject of an extraordinary speculative boom in lots and houses, the speculation justified by major population influxes, mainly from Great Britain. By 1910, Grandview is well established.

1910

The boom continued until the pre-war financial crisis of 1913 brought building almost to a halt throughout the city. The level of building between 1910 and 1915 can be compared in the following map.

1915

In this map, what would later become Grandview Park on Commercial Drive is shown as a brown block. In 1915 the area was controlled by the Dominion War Department and was used for drilling soldiers and recruitment. It would not become a park until much later in the 1920s.

Building in Grandview was essentially halted by the recession, the war, and post-war economics until well into the 1920s.

Goad’s 1912 atlas now a VanMap layer

Regular readers of this blog, and researchers of local history, will be aware of the 1912 Goad’s Fire Atlas, which has been available in low-res images on the national archives website for the past few years.

As part of the fantastic digitization efforts undertaken by City of Vancouver Archives, the atlas is now available in much higher resolution as a layer on VanMap, the city’s on-line data pool of everything from lot sizes to zoning to dog parks.

Read this post on the Archives’ blog to find out how to use it!

Jack Burch at Age 92 Recalls Grandview’s 1920, 30s, 40s…

 

Jack Burch worked at Grandview’s local newspaper, the Highland Echo, from 1949 until he retired in 1994 as the owner and publisher.
This video interview starts with Jack’s experiences in Grandview in the 1920s and 1930s, and covers his experiences overseas in World War II. After the War, Jack describes his work at the Highland Echo and his experiences with the Italian immigrants – who made great soccer coaches.
The interview ends with various images and articles from the Highland Echo over its long history since 1917.
This film was part of a New Horizons grant to encourage people to use their smart phones to record interesting people for the benefit of everyone, and then to encourage the use of free computer software to make the footage into interesting short films. Anyone can do it!

The Sensational Develoment of Grandview

One hundred and ten years ago today, Grandview was essentially empty of residents with, perhaps, two score of enterprising families staking their claim in what was still mostly scrub and tree stumps. But then Dow & Co became agents for the newly opened sub-division, and they became our first boosters.  This Vancouver Daily World ad was published on 6th March 1905.

Dow ad_Vancouver_Daily_World_Mon__Mar_6__1905_Grandview, read the ad, “has attracted more attention than any section of our city the past few months. It is not speculation but rather bona fide investment that is marking its progress. Homesites are chosen with care by residents for building on.

“Corners are  being bought by merchants with a view to establishing business in this growihng healthy neighbourhood …

“We will be pleased to show you over the ground or have a talk on Grand View and its many advantages; no bridges to cross; no steamer travel, just the ordinary every day up-to-date streetcar transportation.”

Meeting Notes: April 2014

There was a heavy rainstorm and a wintry wind last night, but still the came out for the latest of our regular monthly meetings.  As always, the meeting was full of erudite and fun stuff:  We discussed:

  • The student program, working with UBG Geog.  It didn’t work very well for us this year.  In fact, it is reasonable to say that we got nothing out of it at all — not even a look at the final paper so far.  The student met with us once and then declined to meet with us again.  It should be no surprise then that Michael, who attended the class project presentations, said her paper veered off track from what we had hoped.  It was agreed that we review the situation again next year if the offer comes up.
  • On a more positive student note, Jak mentioned that SFU’s John Ngyuen‘s piece on Commercial Drive and the Community Plan should be available late this week.  In the meanwhile, his class project on youth estrangement from politics is now available.
  • We then discussed the fact that Commercial Drive as a whole was put on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Endangered List this year.  Several of us disagree that the development pressures that may be leaning on the Drive today are anything to do with heritage.  The debate drifted into the current situation in Shaughnessy One and Dunbar.
  • It was noted that the owners of several heritage properties on the north side of the 1800-block Venables have received letters from a developer seeking to assemble lots there.
  • Michael then took us through the situation with our plaque on the Shelly’s Wall.  It is deteriorating quite quickly, fading.
  • This led us to the 2014 Centenary Celebration House Signs project. We have 39 houses on the shortlist and 24 signs.  We will launch again in June with a cake-in-the-park party.
  • Penny and Bruce will be talking to the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group about setting up a centenary signs project of their own.
  • Which brought us to the main event of the night.  Eric’s latest episode of this Heritage Mechanicals and Materials. This one was on glass.  He entertainingly took us through the history of glass making and its use in houses.  He had illustrations on slides and brought along a fine collection of artifacts for us to see and handle. Another excellent episode.
  • We finished the evening by talking about and sampling the ware’s of Bomber, the only brewer in the main part of Grandview.  A fine end to a fine evening!

Walking Tour: West Grandview

Next Saturday, 29th March at 10am, historian and GHG’s own Maurice Guibord will be conducting a walking tour concerning the history and heritage of the area between Commercial Drive and Clark Drive.

This is a walk arranged by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation who describe it in the following way:

“This fascinating sub-area has been little explored, straddling industrial, commercial and residential precincts and displaying the transitions that continue to transform its built heritage. You will see how artists have played an important part in making the area more livable, how demographic pressures have transformed the residential landscape, and how some individuals chose this area to make their statement, be it cultural, patrimonial or other.”

Registration can be done online: http://www.vancouverheritagefoundation.org/take-a-tour/walking-tours/ or by calling their office: 604 264 9642.  There is a cost of $15 for VHF tours.

Maurice is an erudite and entertaining tour leader and this is thoroughly recommended.

Meeting Notes: March

We had about twenty people at our meeting last night, with a couple of new visitors.  I don’t think anyone was disappointed with all that we managed to cover in a couple of hours.

  • Michael Kluckner gave a detailed and excellent illustrated talk that led us through the history of heritage legislation and regulation in Vancouver, starting with the first Heritage By-law (which has its 40th anniversary this year), which was a result of the controversial Birks Building demolition. He then segued into a review of the various housing styles that we can find in Grandview, focusing on the change from a front porch-based culture to one that prefers more privacy in backyards and courtyards.
  • Michael’s talk was by way of a primer for our 2014 Centenary House signs project walk on Sunday.  We will meet at the Britannia library at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday 23rd March.  We will cover the area west and south of Britannia.  Everyone is welcome to join us.
  • We noted that Stephanie Chang, the UBC Historical Geography (GEOG 429) student who has been wortking with us, will present her paper next Tuesday.  Michael and Jak are planning to go.
  • We discussed the situation regarding Brookhouse, 1872 Parker. The news does not seem good, and we may well lose this house to demolition very soon.
  • The meeting that several of us had with the Agnew family was described, and led to an interesting discussion about the value of family papers and photographs.
  • Jak and Bruce described the $25,000 New Horizons grant that has now been received and is to be managed by VCN.  The purpose of the project is to collect as many seniors’ stories as we can.  Interviews should begin in April.
  • Last, and certainly not least, Eric Phillips gave us a teaser about the new edition of his series, Heritage Mechanicals and Materials, that he will present at our meeting next month.  The subject is Glass.  He brought along a number of examples of stained glass and beveled plate, and then encouraged our attendance next month with some fascinating illustrations about the history of glass.

Another great meeting; I think we are really getting into our stride now.

Fifty Years Ago Today

In the early 1960s there was great concern about the health, welfare and education of children in Grandview, and the apparent slumming down of the neighbourhood in general.  In that period, much of the health and welfare delivery system was in the hands of United Community Services (UCS, which eventually morphed into United Way). On March 1st 1964, specifically to deal with these concerns, UCS created the Woodland Park Area Resources Council (WPARC), the first local area council in Vancouver.

In the beginning, the WPARC was composed of health, welfare and education professionals, and they produced a number of useful reports.  It was the vanguard of a new style of welfare planning.  In the spring of 1965, UCS issued a press release that noted: “A program called the Local Area Approach will combine health, social welfare, education and recreation services in a concerted attack on social problems in selected geographical areas of Vancouver … Local community planning and self –help will be stressed.”  Much of this was designed from the work that WPARC had already completed.

You might notice the name features “Woodland Park” rather than “Grandview”.  That was because most of the “difficult areas” in the neighbourhood were in the north and west.  In fact, WPARC worked very closely with Strathcona, our north-western neighbour.  The relationship was so close, in fact, that the first organization map from December 1966 showed them linked:

UCS map December 1966In August 1966, it was “anticipated that there will be a combining of the two local area planning operations in these adjoining areas with the formation of one Local Area Council.”  However, by December 1966, it could be said that “while the amalgamation of the Woodland Park and Strathcona Area Councils was seriously considered, it was mutually agreed separate but related local planning operations should be maintained.”

While it began life controlled by health and welfare professionals, the WPARC always had a mandate to gradually include more and more community representatives, and it fulfilled this mandate with enthusiasm. In 1966, the chairman W.C. McLaren reported that the “Woodland Park Area Resources Council includes representatives from as great a cross section of the community as possible.”   In fact, by the summer of 1967, virtually all the Executive Council members were locals.

About 30 people attended the WPARC AGM on 25th October 1967.  E.M. Greyall was in the chair.  A motion passed changing the name to Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC). The name was changed so that “citizens of Grandview could identify more closely with the community service work the Council is attempting to do.” Another motion passed making the Area boundaries Clark, Broadway, Nanaimo and the inlet. K. Frank Neale (principal at Seymour K-7) was elected chairman, with Bill Dey (Grandview Ratepayers) as vice-chairman. Other directors included G. Negrin, M. Pratt, Johnny Grippo. V. Coombs and Mrs. Buchan.  In addition there were were the chairs of sub-committees:  Miss M. Dick (Headstart), Jack Burch (Library), and Mrs. G. Gentleman (Housing and Redevelopment).

And thus, GWAC can trace its history back to 1st March 1964, fifty years ago today.